May 17, 2008
by Jac Coyne, Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
IRVING, Texas -- The Michigan men's lacrosse program has taken its lumps in the MCLA tournament, suffering startling upsets and often failing to live up their seeds. All that's out the window now.
Led by a dominating face-off performance from senior All-American Brekan Kohlitz, who snared 20 of the 28 draws on the evening, the Wolverines finally shook off a pesky Chapman squad to win the Division I national title, 14-11, on Saturday evening in Texas Stadium.
"He has been important for us this year not only on what he does on the field, but what he does in the weight room, at practice every day, and all of the stuff off the field is special," said Michigan coach John Paul after the game. "He really sets the example for a lot of guys and they follow his lead."
After leading by as many as three goals twice during the game, Michigan (20-0) was forced to fend off a third-quarter Chapman (19-2) charge.
Trailing 7-4 lead after UM's Kevin Zorovich opened the second quarter with his second goal of the game, the Panthers responded with three goals over a four minutes span to tie the game at seven. Connor Martin, Marcus Wooden and Derek Mills all netted goals in the run.
But with a bloodless efficiency that was Michigan's hallmark the entire tournament - and season - the Wolverines closed the third quarter with three-straight goals and opened the fourth with a couple more, building a 12-7 lead with 12:27 left in the contest.
Four different players scored for UM, including Peter Vasher's second and Zorovich's third, during the run, but the Panthers, who had made an amazing comeback against Arizona State in the semifinals, had one more bullet in the gun.
Chapman scored three of the next four goals to cut the lead to 13-10 before Marcus Wooden took a feed from Mike Clayton on the crease and beat UM keeper Graham Townsend to pull within two with 2:46 remaining.
But as he was doing all game, Kohlitz thwarted any other chances of a Panther comeback by corralling the last two face-offs of the game as Vasher completed his hat trick with an empty-netter with 1:10 remaining.
In the Division II final, it was all Westminster, as the Griffins dominated just about every aspect of the game to take the 17-10 victory over Grand Valley State. Roman Schoewe scored six goals to lead Westminster while goalie Dallas McLellan was named the defensive MVP of the tournament for another stellar performance.
Westminster is just in its second season of existence, but has already notched a national championship - quite a feat for the Salt Lake City school.
I'll have more thoughts on my first MCLA experience on Monday, as well as recap of all that has happened in the world of lacrosse while I've been down here in Dallas.